By Jennifer DiDomenico
For the News-Gazette
While most college students spent their winter breaks traveling home to spend the holidays with their families, Aujanae Watson led a service group to a foster home in an underprivileged area of Montego Bay, Jamaica, to spend Christmas with young foster children.
Watson and a small group of peers visited the Pringle Girls Home for seven days. The group worked on a beautification project, in which they decorated and painted the young girls’ rooms and hallways.
“These girls come from homes of abuse, sexual abuse, or they are orphans,” said Watson. “It was really just amazing [to meet them].”
Watson, currently a student at Florida International University studying health science and administration, was once a foster child herself. After her mother died when Watson was only 16 years old, she moved from her home in Celebration to a foster home through Community Based Care of Central Florida (CBCCF).
“I was still able to go to the same high school… I lived 45 minutes away instead of 10 minutes away, so I didn’t get to hang out with my friends, which was hard,” said Watson. “But this really gave me a lot of perspective. A lot of these girls were just uprooted from their homes and didn’t understand the situation they were going through.”
Watson is currently enrolled in the Osceola Independent Living Youth program, which helps foster children become self-sufficient adults. With the opportunity to continue her education, and with the help of CBCCF, Watson has overcome many hurdles in life. She hopes to give back to other youth who are struggling, the way she once did.
“It really is inspiring,” said Danielle Abbey, community impact manager for CBCCF. “It’s very difficult for a kid to be able to obtain a higher level of education. A lot of things can interrupt their studies. To be able to see what Aujanae is doing, and how she’s connecting everything she’s gone through with children in another country, is amazing on so many levels. We’re just so excited and so thrilled to see everything she’s doing and the results of her trip.”